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Discussing Traditional and Modern Ethics

ask: Describe the historical developments of both traditional and modern ethics. What is the connection between the two developments?

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Deontological and teleological ethics comprise the two major classical schools of thought. Deontology (Kantian) focuses on the moral nature of the act itself irrespective of the consequence. Teleologists determine the morality of an act solely by its consequences. Teleologists (e.g., utilitarianism) posit, " the ends justifies the means"; viz.: violating the rights of a person is moral if the consequences are good.

Briefly, there are three traditional "fields" of ethics put forth by three historical figures.

1. Virtue ethics is represented by Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. This places the value of action in two things: virtues (or functions, or character attributes, such as courage, temperance, friendliness, etc) and a purpose (telos) to be achieved. For Aristotle, the goal is Eudaimonia, or human flourishing, also translated (poorly) as happiness (see more detail at

2. Deontological ethics is represented by Immanuel Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. This places the value of an action in it being done from DUTY. Deonto- is from the Greek, meaning, "bound," so, it is "the study of what we are bound, by duty, to do.

Kant's system depends upon the following claims. First, an imperative is a objective principle (or rule) necessitating for a will (or: that a person is required to do). A categorical imperative is an imperative that is done ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the traditional fields of ethics, deontological and teleological ethics, and compares and contrasts these with modern ethics, which encompasses cultural relativism and ethical egoism. This is all completed in about 860 words and has references dispersed throughout the solution.